The sports sphere is a complex and diverse phenomenon, a branch of the national economy, a special institutional system, which is characterized by a specific process of social activity. In developed and developing countries it is a profitable area of activity, covering various kinds of sports, as well as the industry for the production of goods and sports equipment. It involves thousands of organizations and millions of people, among them not only athletes, but also entrepreneurs, government agencies, specialized organizations and associations, service workers, the media, sports journalists, nonprofit organizations, sports clubs and, of course, spectators and fans.
All subjects of sports market are focused on realization of different aims and tasks, in particular on popularization of this or that sport, increase of fans number, and as the result increase of ticket sale on matches and competitions, increase of demand for goods and services, attraction of sponsors and professional coaches, increase of profitability of sports business. Achieving these results depends on many factors, including political, social, economic, cultural and competitive. Mechanisms and elements of marketing activities that require the highest professionalism and knowledge of the specifics of the industry are clearly visible here.
With the increase of competition in the sports industry, the development of methods of exposure to fans and the general public, the active use of sports events in the political, economic and image-making purposes, the importance of sports marketing increases, which in the modern market takes on various forms and mechanisms.
In a broad sense, sports marketing is any activity to create a sports product, its promotion and sales associated with sports events and their participants. In turn, the sports product is a multifaceted concept, which includes the following elements:
intangible product: sports process, sports and entertainment product, sports education, sports and image product;
tangible product: sportswear and footwear, accessories, equipment, inventory, drinks, sports nutrition;
mixed product: athlete, sports club, team, sports and recreational products, engineering products.
It is necessary to distinguish between the concepts of “sports marketing” and “marketing in sports.”
Sports marketing is the marketing of organizations (clubs, teams, products), events (competitions) and athletes. In turn, marketing in sports is the promotion of any goods and services of various companies with the help of sports market entities, most often in the form of sponsorship.
Sports marketing is mainly focused on the market, which in sports is primarily a group of people interested in the spectacle of sport – the audience, the fans. They either pay money for these products by buying tickets or season tickets, or receive them indirectly by watching television broadcasts or listening to radio broadcasts, which in turn generates profits from the sale of broadcasting rights and sales of advertising airtime.
Thus, sports marketing is focused on the audience (mass consumer), its main purpose is to maintain and stimulate the viewer’s interest and provide him with a service – a quality sport show. It is an important tool for achieving the strategic and tactical objectives of sports organizations interested in promoting and selling their market product.
Sports marketing performs a wide range of tasks:
- Tasks related to the study of the market,
- competitive positions,
- research of spectator preferences and impressions, on the basis of which a competitive and in-demand sports product is formed;
- the tasks related to the establishment of relations with the federations, leagues and specialized associations;
Tasks related to the promotion, production and advancement of sports competitions, teams and sportsmen: popularizing certain sports, image building, improving recognition, providing regular information about the activity of a sports organization, team or sportsmen in the different media and the Internet, providing participation in the different target events
tasks, concerning attraction of sponsors: search and attraction of sponsors for full financing of needs and mutually beneficial cooperation, but at the same time keeping the independence;
tasks related to ticketing programs: organizing an effective and flexible system for selling sports products and tickets for sports events
the tasks connected with interaction with fans: organization of communication offline and online campaigns on attraction of spectators and fans, increasing their loyalty and adherence, formation of certain emotions, connected not only with the joy of victories, but also with the empathy at defeats
tasks related to the creation of brand symbols.
The complex of marketing communications in sports, as in any other sphere, traditionally includes advertising, public relations, sales promotion and personal sales. As a rule, integrated marketing communications – the joint use of different types of marketing communications to achieve common goals – are used in the sphere of sports.
Public relations tools are aimed at creating a favorable environment for the performance of sports organizations, teams and athletes; they include:
- Active interaction with mass and profile media, sports journalists and editors,
- Creating newsbreaks and issuing materials (press releases, articles, interviews, biographies)
- Responding to incoming inquiries,
- Press conferences and briefings,
- studying the information field;
- organizing special events, master classes and fan meetings,
- participation in charity and sponsorship events, creation of glory museums;
- Communications on the Internet, in particular the creation of websites, communities in social networks,
- interaction with target portals,
- study of feedback in the online environment;
- formation of corporate culture and team unity;
- lobbying, expanding the sphere of influence and strengthening state support.
Advertising technologies include tools used to create awareness of the sports product, maintain interest in it, as well as promote and increase demand. Different means and methods are used here: television, radio, print and Internet advertising; outdoor advertising; advertising at ticket outlets; transport advertising, POS-materials; advertising from bloggers and opinion leaders.
Sales promotion activities in sports marketing are aimed at increasing the demand for a sports product; promotions, coupons and season tickets, special offers and loyalty programs are actively used here.
Personal sales in sports is a verbal presentation of the sports product in a conversation with one or more persons, most often this method is used by sports promoters to attract sponsors, partners, opinion leaders, entrepreneurs to a particular sporting event.